Dan grew up in the Reformed Church in America and served as a missionary with the Christian Reformed Church in the Philippines. He now works for Hope Haven, an organization founded and supported by members of both denominations.
The collaboration between the Disability Concerns ministries of the CRC and RCA has allowed him to use his ties to both denominations as a volunteer Regional Advocate for Disability Concerns in Rock Valley, Iowa.
“Dan has the unique opportunity to promote inclusion of individuals with disabilities for a CRC classis and two RCA classes,” said Mark Stephenson, director of Disability Concerns in the CRC.
In all three classes, Dan’s main goal is to include individuals with disabilities in belonging to and serving in their churches. Dan has a similar goal as religious services coordinator at Hope Haven Ministries.
Dan uses the overlap in his positions to find roles in the churches for people at Hope Haven such as Brett.
When Brett was 17, a social worker placed him with Hope Haven. During this time, through both services at Hope Haven and community Bible studies, Brett accepted Christ.
“When I was younger, I had heard of Jesus Christ from radio and TV, but there was no Christianity in my home growing up,” Brett said.
One week after graduating from high school, Brett made profession of faith at Faith Reformed Church in Rock Valley, Iowa.
“The pastor clearly communicated that following Jesus was a choice,” Brett said. “I decided to put my past behind me and follow Jesus.”
Since then, Brett has been involved in a number of activities at his church. He has served as a greeter and member of the choir, and he regularly attends Bible studies and church outings.
“Brett loves church picnics and soup suppers,” Dan added. “He is waiting for the opportunity to enter a chili cook-off with a recipe that he obtained from one of his annual visits to Texas.”
Thanks to Dan’s work and the openness of the communities in Rock Valley, people with disabilities are genuinely part of the community.
“I visited Rock Valley several years ago,” Stephenson said. “I was surprised by the natural way that people with disabilities are part of the community. It is just an everyday part of life there.”
Volunteers like Dan are just one of the many assets the two ministries share. CRC and RCA Disability Concerns also share a joint quarterly newsletter, Facebook page, and handbook.
“Sometimes we think it’s enough to help or give someone assistance,” Dan said. “But part of the changes churches should make is more than inviting but also recognizing a contribution. Each person provides a service that blesses others.”